I often get asked questions about careers in IT (Information Technology). After all, I've been a Vice President of Consulting (twice for two different companies), Vice President of Development, Senior Technical specialist many times and now I am a Director Of Technical Services. I've been working with computers for 23 years as of 2001 and plan on continuing my education and career in a positive direction until day that I die.
So what would I recommend to anyone seeking or currently holding a career in IT? What are qualities that make an IT person invaluable to a company?
I think one of most valuable traits that anyone in any career can foster is simple communication. This is especially true of IT people, as many of us tended to get into field in first place because we are introverts. I don't know about you, but when I started with computers over 23 years ago, I didn't want to talk with anyone. Computers I could understand, but people? That was a different question.
In college I had a professor named Fredrick. He taught a class in assembly language - which was very advanced for school. I excelled in this class and spent a great deal of time talking to teacher. When Fredrick started a new consulting company he needed to get someone on board who could program but was also very inexpensive. Because I had been communicating with man during his class, he offered me a job as a programmer in his new company. I stayed there for six years, and by time company was purchased by a British conglomerate I was Vice President of Development.
As I matured I began to open up to people, and after a few years I found that more I communicated, better my career progressed. Don't get me wrong, communication is not always fun and definitely isn't easy sometimes, but it is absolutely vital to any kind of career movement.
To advance in your career it is necessary to make sure people understand your intentions. More importantly, it is critical that they understand that you understand. You want people (those you supervise as well as your supervisors) to know your capabilities and how those can aid them and company that you all work for.
What you do is talk to your boss regularly. Ensure that he or she fully understands what you can do and what you want to do (thus greasing skids for additional training and promotions). Discuss how your talents can help company achieve it's goals and how you can help your boss achieve those goals. Do same with people who work for you, customers, vendors, and other co-workers.
Use email to your advantage. Email is just another form of communication, and it's best used to ensure that others are on same page as you. For example, it's usually a good idea to send an email after a meeting to those who were in attendance, briefly explaining what was discussed and what you've committed to produce. As you meet those commitments, you can also use email to make it known.
If you are a supervisor, you need to let people who work for you know not only exactly what is expected of them, but also other details such as how they fit into organization, how their efforts contribute to bottom line and goals and objectives of company, department, sub-department and group. This allows your people to be more effective, which in turn allows you to be more effective.